Kristen Welker, the NBC White House correspondent who moderated the final presidential debate, should probably send two bouquets after her performance Thursday either received dishwater-temperature praise or just got overlooked entirely:
One to Democratic Georgia state Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick and another to Fox News’ Chris Wallace.
If you’re not a Twitter user, you might not have heard of Kendrick. A corporate attorney and prolific tweeter during the debate, she had this to say about when President Donald Trump noted the 545 minors caught illegally crossing into the United States who purportedly couldn’t find their parents were potentially brought there by “cartels and coyotes bring kids over the border”:
“Did @realDonaldTrump just say 545 kids they can’t find their parents for came over through ‘cartels and coyotes’?! How the hell does a coyote bring a whole human across the border?! Lord—–stop talking.”
Even after half the platform seemed to inform her “coyotes” were human traffickers who help shepherd illegal immigrants over the border — and after plenty of Wile E. Coyote memes — the tweet was still up and trending like mad as of early Friday morning. I guess Kendrick is a firm believer in the en vogue management strategy of the social-media self-own: Don’t delete, double down.
You’re more familiar with Chris Wallace, the putative moderator of the first debate. I say putative because, once it became clear Wallace was unbiased in his role as moderator in the same way a pro wrestling match is undecided before the competitors enter the ring, Trump decided he was going to take matters into his own hands. The intervening few hours was a car crash in which we witnessed the first presidential debate where the clear loser was the guy who was supposed to be moderating it.
The resulting take from the night, even from conservative Twitter users: Sure, Kristen Welker might have been biased, but at least she wasn’t Chris Wallace.
They even managed to forget the fact Kristen Welker doesn’t know the Constitution and thinks the president is entirely responsible for deciding how money gets spent. More on that in a bit, but first, praise for Welker:
Credit where credit’s due: @kwelkernbc went easier on Biden and tougher on Trump, but overall she did a good job. Much better than Chris Wallace!
— Michael Knowles (@michaeljknowles) October 23, 2020
— Tony de la Mancha 🌲🕊 (@tonybalogna) October 23, 2020
Well, I can be honest when I say @kwelkernbc will be moderating many more Presidential debates after this performance. She moves past Chris Wallace, all of CNN, ABC, CBS & Fox News w/her performance tonight. I think Pres Trump was thankful too #Debates2020 #Elections2020 #wdshow
— W.E. Dupree (@WayneDupreeShow) October 23, 2020
I think we can agree@kwelkernbc > chris wallace
— Tim Pool (@Timcast) October 23, 2020
Gotta say @kwelkernbc did a very good job tonight. There were things she could’ve done better IMO, but that will always be the case.
Chris Wallace should take notes. He could learn from her.
— Will Ricciardella (@WillRicci) October 23, 2020
All of these individuals are conservatives, mind you. Liberal Twitter was even more effusive, with Elie Mystal of The Nation tweeting this power ranking:
DEBATE MODERATOR RANKINGS
— Elie Mystal (@ElieNYC) October 23, 2020
Apparently, given the fact Mike Pence destroyed Kamala Harris in the vice presidential debate, moderator Susan Page didn’t do her job and should have been replaced with SARS-CoV-2.
But I digress. If you wanted to do some sort of data-driven meta-analysis of conservative Twitter’s reaction to Thursday’s debate and picked out the word that got mentioned most, “better” would have been in second place, right after “coyotes.” As in, Kristen Welker was better than Chris Wallace. This was a low bar, but one that Welker had to clear merely by, well, not being Chris Wallace.
On one hand, Welker asked Democratic nominee Joe Biden serious questions, including queries about China and Ukraine. On the other hand, there was this exchange with the president about COVID-19 relief where you kind of wish props were allowed in these debates and that Trump had one of those pocket Constitutions handy for the perfect visual own.
“As of tonight, more than 12 million people are out of work. And as of tonight, 8 million more Americans have fallen into poverty, and more families are going hungry every day,” Welker said.
“Those hit hardest are women and people of color. They see Washington fighting over a relief bill. Mr. President, why haven’t you been able to get them the help they need?”
“Because Nancy Pelosi doesn’t want to approve it. I do,” Trump said, referring to the Democratic speaker of the House.
“But you’re the president,” Welker responded.
Oh, for that pocket Constitution. Or just the part with Article I, Section 7, really:
“All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.
“Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it.”
But according to Welker, the president can rule by fiat. You want COVID-19 relief in the trillions? You’ve got it. Forget about that pesky congressional process enumerated in the Constitution. He’s responsible for getting the job done — even if it’s not his job.
Now, as some commenters noted, Pelosi and House Democrats have indeed originated a relief bill, the HEROES Act. It’s been sent to the Senate, controlled by Republicans:
The President’s Party has had the Relief Bill on it’s desk over 160 days whilst the struggling American people went without It has been far more important to The Republican based Senate to push through a SCOTUS right now that to financially assist ALL hungry American citizens
— Mrs Miguel (@MrsMiguel2) October 23, 2020
This still would have made the question ignorant, since nothing is on the president’s desk. However, yes, there’s the HEROES Act — which is still a bad argument if you want to say the president is the one who can make things happen here.
If the HEROES Act were a plane, it would be designed out of a solid brick of lead with two stubby paper wings and the steering wheel from one of those red Playmobil cars stuck on the top of it, connected to nothing. As for engines, it’d be powered by two of those AA-battery pocket fans you find at Dollar General. Pelosi and the Democrats delivered this prototype over to the Senate and said, “Now make this sucker fly.”
The bill is a laundry-list of liberal desires, most of which are wholly unrelated to the COVID-19 crisis. As the Heritage Foundation notes, the bill would, inter alia, bail out profligate states and localities to the tune of $1 trillion, forgive student loans up to $10,000, give stimulus payments to illegal immigrants and reinstate a property tax deduction that was little more than the rest of America subsidizing a handful of high-tax blue states where the amount the state collected would have been untenable otherwise.
Furthermore, Pelosi made it clear she wasn’t going to meet anyone halfway. The Senate better make that lead plane fly and land it in the Oval Office, where Trump would sign off on it.
In short, the House — where one would have hoped Kristen Welker would have understood that spending bills originate — did something about COVID-19 relief merely to be seen as doing something.
Now, was that something going to accomplish anything substantive? Heck to the no. But it apparently did enough where this was an exchange in Thursday’s debate.
Again, Kristen Welker was better than Chris Wallace as debate moderator. This wasn’t just a low bar, however. There was no bar to clear. All Kristen Welker had to do was walk over where the bar would have been and she won. For most of the night, she ended up doing this. Occasionally, she tripped. See the example above.
Surprisingly, some people were impressed with Welker’s moderating acumen here. Unsurprisingly, they were … well, here’s part of the sample:
Right. Like “but what”?! https://t.co/d5Lh5e0xKD
— Dar’shun Kendrick (@DarshunKendrick) October 23, 2020
She sure threw Trump to the coyotes there.
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